There is only one Queen of Soul and she deserves her story told. Enter author David Ritz, the most prolific music biographer in town. He is himself a Grammy award winner and the only four-time winner of the Gleason Music Book Award.
He’s written biographies on Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, B.B. King, Etta James, and Smokey Robinson, among others, but his latest book is on the Queen herself. In Respect Franklin and David Ritz detail the incredible rise Detroit’s favorite daughter. This is is Ritz’ second book on Franklin, as he helped her do her autobiography in 1999. This one is more of an objective overview of Franklin’s life.
“That’s when I first got to know the Queen. It was one of the highlights of my career.”
In Respect, Ritz explains that while Franklin told her own story from her own viewpoint, this time others are asked for their perspectives and her life is chronicled in a more objective way. Ritz had already formed relationships with Franklin’s family and musical collaborators, so expanding on a subject like Aretha Franklin would be a natural progression.
“Because all these other subjects weren’t in the book – James Cleveland was a very important figure in her life – it occurred to me that it would be great if I could do a book that included other people’s impressions of her. And also I couldn’t do – in the book that she and I did together – I couldn’t honor her artistry in the way that I intended to because that book was written in her voice. This time, I can go through her career album by album. It’s just unbelievable, her genius.”
As someone who has written about so many celebrities, Ritz says the one thing they have in common is drive. Franklin for example, just released an album at age 72 and will tour over 200 days this year.
One biography you’ll never see – Ritz’s own.
“No one cares,” he says.
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